Big Bend Frontline Workers Roll Up Sleeves For First Vaccine Doses

By Mitch Borden

Healthcare and other frontline workers in the Big Bend region began receiving their first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine last week.

Preventative Care Health Services, which operates three clinics across the region, was given 400 doses that they are now administering across the Tri-County area.

Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden caught up with PCHS’ CEO Linda Molinar to see how the distribution process is going.

Last week, PCHS began administering the first COVID-19 vaccines to frontline workers in the Big Bend region. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Below is an edited conversation between Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden and Preventative Care Health Services’ CEO Linda Molinar. To listen to a longer version of their conversation, click the audio player above.

Editors note: This story initially aired on December 30

Mitch Borden: Now, even though the vaccine has arrived, there is a limited supply, which means the general public won’t be able to be vaccinated right now.

Could you just go over which individuals and organizations will be able to receive some of the 400 vaccines for COVID-19 currently available in the region?

Linda Molinar: We’re doing our three counties, which is Fort Davis, Presidio and Brewster County. Our priority is everybody at the hospital. They’re taking care of patients from their clinic or at the hospital setting. Then it’s all the clinics here locally, everybody in clinical settings.

Then you also have all the pharmacies, the University of Sul Ross also [has] nurses, the schools have nurses. So, any entity that has like a nurse doing direct care to a patient they could possibly have COVID are getting it done.

MB: With the number of registrations coming in and with [your staff] being able to do 20 vaccines an hour, when do you expect all 400 to be distributed?

LM: Our hope was that by next week, we could be done with everybody, but I know there’s a few people [that are] out of town or things like that. So, I’m going to say the majority of our vaccines should be done by next week. And at that point, we would know if there’s any vaccines at all left.

MB: One thing I’ve heard concerning the current rate you guys are vaccinating is that the forms you’re sending to organizations are quite long. And that could be slowing down the rate that people are registering.

Is there any plan or effort to streamline PCHS’ registration process? 

LM: I did ask the people that we vaccinated if they had any issues or to see we could do something differently. Nobody mentioned anything about the form’s being lengthy. The difference between us and other organizations is our quality of care is very high. And therefore, we do ask a few more questions I would say than other clinics. 

These are just standard questions that anywhere you go, people should be asked. We’re responsible for these patients, so, we need forms to contact them.

MB: What do you say to people who say that y’all aren’t moving fast enough?

LM: I don’t think we’re moving slow at all. If they want a vaccine, I mean, you request it today it’s there tomorrow. To have your vaccine within 24 hours, it’s pretty amazing for a small clinic.

MB: How’s it feel just to have the vaccine in the [Big Bend] region?

LM: I’m very excited, because it’s hard for me to hear so many people there in the healthcare industry. They believe they have COVID and they have to live without fear. This way, we can all concentrate on just taking care of our patients. So I am very excited and I feel very blessed that our community has the vaccines.

About Mitch Borden

Mitch Borden is Marfa Public Radio's Permian Basin Reporter. If you have any questions about West Texas' energy industry or the Permian Basin email him at mitch@marfapublicradio.org.
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